To Relearn Everything

[[Side Note: To Relearn Everything

When I first started on my road to recovery I was well, alone.  Yes, I had my family, I had my roommates/friends, I had the internet board I belonged to, but I still felt, ALONE.

Why?  Because I felt like I had messed myself up so much and didn’t know how to get any of it back.  I had screwed up my mentality about eating and everything it involved that I simply didn’t know how to start over, or get rid of all the awful things I had learned.

So how did I start learning? 

I had one revelation, and another goal to meet.

Step One: Revelation

By my Spring Semester, Junior year of college I was preparing to leave and be out on my own, IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY.  I made the decision to go somewhere else other than Europe like all the other kids, and ended up choosing AUSTRALIA.

BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE.

I remember getting to the airport in Cairns, NEQ after 18 hours of flying from Los Angeles and gasping for air in the heavy humidity.  But then I realized where I was: I was surrounded by green, by the tropics, by this enormous amount of living and breathing thing I had never been able to see before. 

It was absolutely AMAZING.

I was in awww the entire 2+ hr drive we took to our site, out in the middle of no where rainforest.  I seriously couldn’t believe where I was and about the adventure I was about to embark on!

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I spent 4 solid months out here. 

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I not only learned about the environment, but I also learned about myself…and not only who I was, but what I was capable of doing.

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I found creatures I’m sure not many will see in their life. 

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I walked across lands people haven’t crossed in tens of hundreds of years. 

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I met the greatest friends I could have ever asked for.

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And that was only the beginning.

It was one of the most eye opening experiences in my life.  It let me see all the things that I might want to do after college and pursue as my career. 

Step Two: New Goal

I returned home to California for the summer and my last two semesters of college.  I was absorbed in getting my Senior Project done and trying to figure out my future.

But I was aching, hoping, wishing to get back to Australia.  I had participated in community events while I was there, planting baby trees along corridors to help build up areas where animals could cross…and loved it.  But it just wasn’t enough for me.

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So I embarked on MY FIRST RACE GOAL since developing my ED:

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We worked with an organization called TREAT: Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands doing repairs on the environment and I loved their outlook on restoration, preservation and conservation.  And of course, the people who ran the sites/services were absolutely awesome and extremely devoted to their cause.  And of course they were trying desperately to save one of my favorite endangered species: Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo.

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How could you  not love an animal like that.  Doesn’t look like a kangaroo?  Got that right.  This pretty baby lives in the trees of only certain kinds of rainforest, particularly the ones I was there studying.  I saw them a handful of times and heard them crashing through the forest when I would scare them, but they were the most fantastic mammals to date in my book!

So what did I do?  I decided to run a race.

But in order to run that race, I had to learn, or in this case, relearn everything there was about fueling myself for the training I was about to embark on.

I signed up with the San Diego Track Club to take part in their Rock n’ Roll Marathon Training program that took 4+ months to accomplish.  I thought I was crazy, everyone thought I was crazy, but I had an agenda behind the entire cause:

I was going to raise money for TREAT.

I figured, if I couldn’t get back there to help out with the cause, I would try my hardest by sending them things so it could  be done without me there.  I had no idea really how I was going to raise money, but I went ahead and did it, by deciding to RUN A MARATHON.

I went after every friend, family, faculty and fellow student on campus and raised as much money as I could, ending at $900 AU.  It took me all four months plus some to get to the goal I was looking for, but even then I wanted to give them more. 

And I trained.  I trained so hard and so long…but there were setbacks along the way.

Like I said, I had to relearn how to feed myself to keep up with all the running/working out I was doing.  Truthfully, it was extremely hard.  I was a hard core calorie counter at the time so knowing all the numbers was very difficult to get by.

In the beginning I did a horrible job.  I used all the running I was doing as a way to burn calories I had eaten during the day, not as an activity I loved and was doing with a purpose/goal.  It was horrible.  I saw results that my ED liked, but on the other side of it all things that I was hating.  I did start eating more of my fear foods, but the guilt was so bad that it backfired most of the time I tried.  It was a trial I had never embarked on and was scared. 

Two and a half months into the training, all the doubt and calorie restricting aided in an injury that occurred in both my calves.  The injury not only happened because of the restricting, but also overtraining and wearing the wrong kind of shoes.  But don’t get me wrong, I knew that what I had done to my body was WRONG.

I spent the last 1/3 of my training time at a PT and doing water workouts using an aquajog belt.  I was determined to run the race and not let down all of those who had donated towards my cause.

Unfortunately by the time the race cam around the longest distance I had run was 14 miles.  It was not long enough to run the entire race, even though I had the mentality to finish it.

My coach suggested that since I had done some training, had paid for the club and the race itself so far before hand, that I still run the race.  At first I was hesitant, feeling like a cheater running the 2nd half of the marathon and getting to cross the finish…but then I figured, what the heck?  I paid for it, I was going to run it, even though it was short of the entire thing.

I don’t know what time I finished at, and really, I don’t care.  I know I jumped in at mile 12 and ran just over 14 when I got to the finish line.  I was a tired young lady, but I was more happy of what I had accomplished and for the reason I had done so.

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My shirt actually has a sticker on it with TREAT’s Logo and I had made shirts that I wore at school all the time to raise money to help promote my cause.

This was my first experience with dealing with my ED and actually, it caught the eye of a moderator on the WEBMD board I used to post on.  They ended up doing an article about my recovery and cause for the race…but I leave that discussion for another time!

All in all, this was an eye opening experience.  I learned a lot of new things, relearned old things…and came out with a new view on life.  Sadly it didn’t last as long as I had hoped it would and I had a relapse soon after…but it made getting through that experience much easier the second time around.

You live, and you learn. And then you live some more. ]]

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It’s been a long day having gone to the doctors this morning and having the antibiotics wreck havoc on my body…so I’m going to call it a night.  Hope your week is starting off better than mine!  Love you all!

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14 Responses to To Relearn Everything

  1. Jenny says:

    That was such a great story to read! I love Australia, too! I went to Darwin and loved it

  2. whatkateate says:

    I love this post! Honestly I think you had every right to get in on Mile 12. You still kicked ass & ran a half marathon – thats something to be very very proud of.

  3. Rose says:

    You are such a well rounded woman, and now I know why! You have had some great life experiences. Thank you for sharing them so openly. I know I have gained so much from your words.

  4. Gena says:

    Wonderful post, honey!

    I think that, post-ED, it can help many people to use new, healthy goals to heal. Getting thinner and reducing food has been the goal for so long — something needs to supplant that goal-oriented urge in a positive way. For me, it was a combo of school (read: being the nerdiest English major I could be!!), getting acquainted with physical fitness (I'd pretty much cut every high school gym class), and learning about plant-based foods. All of those things helped.

    Over time, learning not to have goals helped too :) But that's a story for another day. Thanks for this!

  5. healthy ashley says:

    What a great post! You're incredible. And Australia looks beautiful!

  6. Astra Libris says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this post with us! You are truly an inspiration…

  7. Magdalena says:

    One of the things I loved about the Australia program was how it pushed me to grow in ways I hadn't expected…both as a student and as an intern. Such an amazing place, such amazing people. :)

  8. Krista says:

    I loved this post Melissa. You have done so many exciting things in your life so far!

  9. Christina says:

    I love your determination! Even with the setbacks you face, you still kept going forward. It wasn't what you wanted the first time in regards to the marathon, but you learned some valuable stuff that you're applying today!

  10. Gabriela says:

    Thank you for sharing all of this! I've always wanted to go to Australia, and it's great it was such a positive experience for you. Happy hump day!!

  11. Katie says:

    I loved reading this! I'd always wondered when you figured out you loved animals so much, and how you started running. Thanks your your continued openness and honesty, Melissa… I know you're helping a lot of struggling women.

  12. Gaby says:

    Thanks so much for all the things you've been sharing on your blog lately! I love these new sections and you are helping so many people, it's very inspiring!
    These are the very same things that have gotten my life back on track also. Namely traveling. I love to travel and used to jet set from one place to another no problem, so I'm really trying to relearn how to let go of my routines and anxieties in order to fully enjoy the experiences again.
    And now I just embarked on a new goal, I'm going to be a runner! I've been inspired by you and many bloggers as well as friends at home who are runners and just love the sense of community I get with all of you and how great it feels to have a goal and work towards it/ accomplish it. Not to mention all the great causes I can contribute to! I'm taking training very seriously and loving it!I know my body needs a lot of fuel, especially now with running and I'm determined to make this what it should be- something highly beneficial and rewarding. I refuse to let it be detrimental to my health. Yes, my parents are worried I'll lose weight again and I admit that learning the proper way to do this, proper fuel, and REST days, is a challenge, but I'm going to prove to everyone and most importantly, to myself that I can do it!
    So that was really long, but my point was thank you for being honest and for helping me discover a new passion :)

  13. Jessica @ The Process of Healing says:

    Oh wow girl. You have SUCH an amazing story and testimony to overcoming an ed. Even though you are still doing so, you have come SUCH a long way!!! I am in awe of you, completely.

    And I have to say, thank you so much for your comment on my post last night. It meant the world to me and I appreciate it SO much!
    Love ya dear!

  14. Sarah says:

    I <3 Cairns. But I live all the way across the country, in Perth :-(

    What a great post, thank you so much for sharing!

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